HughPickens.com writes: Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman write in the NYT that with his enormous online platform of six million followers, Donald Trump has used Twitter to badger and humiliate those who have dared cross him during the presidential race, latching on to their vulnerabilities, mocking their physical characteristics, personality quirks and, sometimes, their professional setbacks. Trump has made statements that have later been exposed as false or deceptive — only after they have ricocheted across the Internet. For example, Cheri Jacobus, a Republican political strategist, did not think she had done anything out of the ordinary: On a cable television show, she criticized Donald J. Trump for skipping a debate in Iowa in late January and described him as a "bad debater." Trump took to Twitter, repeatedly branding Jacobus as a disappointed job seeker who had begged to work for his campaign and had been rejected. "We said no and she went hostile," Trump wrote. "A real dummy!" Trump's campaign manager told the same story on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." For days, Trump's followers replied to his posts with demeaning, often sexually charged insults aimed at Jacobus, including several with altered, vulgar photographs of her face.(continued) This week, Trump sent out a menacing message on Twitter about the Ricketts family, a wealthy clan of Republican political donors, after it was reported that Marlene Ricketts donated $3 million to a group opposed to Trump's candidacy. "They better be careful," Trump wrote of the family, "they have a lot to hide!" "It's a little surreal when Donald Trump threatens your mom," Marlene Ricketts's son, Tom, later told reporters.
It is not just that Trump has a skill for zeroing in on an individual's soft spot and hammering at it. It is that he sets a tone of aggression against the person, and his supporters echo and amplify it. Jacobus sent a cease-and-desist letter to Trump and his top aide, citing electronic messages that showed the Trump campaign had courted her and not the other way around. "I have been trashed and ruined on Twitter," Jacobus says adding that Trump's lawyers had responded to her letter, but that they had not yet reached a resolution. "At what point does it cross the line into something that's defamatory and might be actionable?" says Parry Aftab, a lawyer who leads the Internet safety group WiredSafety. "At what point does it cross the line into encouraging violence against groups and individuals?"